Web Mashups and ad hoc mapping


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Introduction to mashups and ad hoc mapping for surveyors in Sydney. No programming knowledge needed.

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  • My interest in mashups stems from a combination of a technical and communications background in the GIS industry, website design and development though a family business and data sharing from my work with the Victorian Government’s data custodianship program. It also stems from impatience. I get very cranky about unfriendly websites with unattractive interfaces, broken links or which assume knowledge that I do not have. What I liked about the mashups that were created in various competitions is how easy and intuitive they are to use. I felt it was very relevant to the spatial industry so I wrote a couple of articles for Position Magazine and then got more and more interested in the doors they are opening for us so I have been going along to development days (hackfests), keeping track of the increasing amount of data being published by governments and generally observing how mashups and ad hoc mapping are taking off. I have been in the GIS industry for several decades and in most of that time we have been saying “GIS is going mainstream”. But it never really did. Mashups and the technology they are built on like Google Maps, are taking us mainstream and it is bandwagon we surveying and spatial people need to be jumping onto.
  • Mashups are also called apps – websites or mobile apps. Mashups are more to the prototype end, developed to solve a single problem, quickly. An app has perhaps a longer life – might be a iphone app which you can download from appstore. Or it may just be a personal preference what you call them, the recent apps4nsw development event was so named because it wouldn’t have got government funding if it had been called a hackfest for mashups. Sounds a bit too new and uncontrolled and frivolous. There is a continuum between the quick mashup created in day at a competition or for a media briefing which I will show you some examples of and the more robust mashups which Matt and Cameron will show you. The thing they have in common is that they are combining data and functionality from several sources to create something new. Why encourage the creation of mashups? The more people have access to more data, the more likely you are to get something really good. There may also be some „unexpected or inconvenient truths‟ as people make connections they have never made before – such as ABS data and health. Mashups may seem frivolous – the ones in competitions are mostly community based – helping you decide which farmers market to go to, your nearest public toilet but they are developed because real people find that data useful and they want to get to it quickly. Why create them?   They are fun, they are useful, they are quick to create – you can win fame and fortune in a competition. Most mashup developers develop a mashup to solve a problem of their own – like tell me when the next bus is coming so I can stay in bed another couple of minutes. They are perfect for communicating with non specialists and busy decision makers and we have to do a lot of that in business.   They can also help us solve problems by helping us see thing in a new light. Is there a connection between religion, income and electricity use? We see connections we might otherwise have missed especially when we are looking at a map. The more people have access to more data, the more likely you are to get something really good. There may also be some „unexpected or inconvenient truths‟ as people make connections they have never made before. Some Mashups may seem frivolous – the ones in competitions are mostly community based – helping you decide which farmers market to go to, your nearest public toilet but they are developed because real people find that data useful and they want to get to it quickly. I am not saying you personally should be rolling up your sleeves and getting into programming but you should understand their power, see opportunities for how they can be used in your business either to explain a plan, or convince someone of a point of view, or help them understand information and reach their own decision. You can then decide whether to get into them yourself – and have a path to learn how do it, or know who you can call on to help you. Whether by training, example or doing the development for you. My job today is to set the scene, tell you some history and show you some examples not just of mashups themselves but of how they are being used in organisations like Energy Australia to increase productivity or raise the profile of GIS people in their company Then I will hand over to Matt Robinson of Lagen Spatial who will take you through some examples. There are many ways to skin the mashup cat and Matt will walk you through some examples without getting too technical. As with any technology there are plenty of acronyms and terminology which I know I found very confusing like KML and crowdsourcing and RSS feeds and APIs, so we will demystify these. Finally, once we have convinced you to get out there and create mashups in your organisation, Cameron Shorter will run through some of the choices you will need to make. Do you base your mashup on Google Maps, Bing Maps or Open Street map? What are the licensing issues. How do you make sure the server doesn’t crash when the mashup goes viral as happened in the UK when they did a mashup of the real time location of tube trains. How to start out with something fairly simple rather than overfacing yourself with complicated data or technology. Our aim today is to give you a taste, and demystify the whole mashups subject as it is very new to a lot of us. We do intend to run some followup sessions of perhaps a day each so we welcome your feedback on what you would like. A mashup  is a web page or mobile phone application that combines data or functionality from two or more sources to create a new service. The term implies easy, fast integration and results that were not necessarily the reason for producing the raw source data. The government 2.0 taskforce says “Many serendipitous discoveries arise when a prepared mind makes a previously unnoticed connection between seemingly disparate pieces of information”. The more people have access to more data, the more likely you are to get something really good. This applies to the community and to business.   Mashups are making people’s lives and easier and better. They present information that would be otherwise hard or time consuming to find.   An example is a google map showing you all your government offices – centrelink, medicare etc. So you only have to go to one website to get this information rather than first the centrelink one, then the medicare one and so on. Even more useful is being able to access them while you are on the move on a smartphone   Our aim today is to give you a taste, and demystify the whole mashups subject as it is very new to a lot of us. We do intend to run some followup sessions of perhaps a day each so we welcome your feedback on what you would like.    
  • Why encourage the creation of mashups? The more people have access to more data, the more likely you are to get something really good. There may also be some „unexpected or inconvenient truths‟. Why create them? They are fun, they are useful, they are quick to create – and you can win fame and fortune. Overall it is a satisfying thing to do.
  • The Government 2.0 Taskforce was set up to explore the potential uses of public sector information and online engagement. 2.0 refers to Web 2.0 applications that facilitate two way interaction with the web such as wikis, blogs, youttube. Culture of sharing The next step is mashups in business. In the first mashup comp mashupaustralia Not all had maps but 56 out of the 82 entries did. 3 contributors to success: Pay attention to the people side Engaging online infrastructure Plenty of dat a
  • This mashup is on the pittwater council website. You can click on any marker to get details of the DA and link through to a system called planningalerts. This sort of mashup is very easy to create once you have the data. It is usually finding that data and perhaps ‘scraping’ it off some website that is time consuming. This has already been done by the OpenAustralia foundation with funding from the government 2.0 taskforce. They created planning alerts, a free service which searches planning authority websites for development applications in your area and then emails you their details.
  • This example was presented by Geomatic Technologies at our GITA Mashup workshop. It mashes property boundaries with before and after aerial photography. The benefits are clear from the newspaper article.
  • Energy Australia have also embraced mashups. Daniel Hansen and Craig Hersant gave a paper at the GITA conference, explaining how mashups have raised the profile of GIS in their organisations. Dan also gave a more detailed explanation in the GITA workshop of how he and a young web developer have mashed up the EA network, customer information and operational data with Dial Before you Dig requests and google maps for internal management briefings and media briefings.
  • Energy Australia have raised the profile of GIS in that organisation immensely through mashups for senior management and media briefings.
  • This was a winning entry in the Victorian mashup competition Appmystate. By Mohammad Shahiduzzaman The standard of presentation is fantastic. A very slick website with uplifting classical music, images that slide through. Very classy, huge amount of talent and effort. Works on iphone or android. RAW – What is it? RAW is Remind AnyWay. Put simply, it is a universal reminder system with special emphasis on location. What’s your motive behind RAW? The motive is simple – we want you to concentrate on your tasks and leave the reminding part to RAW. There are two triggering aspects of any event/task i.e. time, location. Up until now, the time part has been covered by many applications and the location part has been recently covered by only a few. Well, we want to put a full stop on this reminding business. We are offering a universal reminding system. Let’s explain with some common scenarios: Sally went to Box Hill Railway station to drop off a friend. After coming back to home, she just found out that she could have been gone to nearby Coles supermarket to buy some vegetables. Oh! damn! – what a silly mistake! Next time Sally will be reminded by her iphone when she gets close to the Railway Station. Uses Victorian Govt. location data regarding schools, parks, universities, railway stations, markets, hospitals and other landmarks.  This includes some of the Vicmap lite data such as railway stations which were released under creative commons licence for the competion.
  • Helps us make informed decisions about the way we get from A to B - whether it's the daily commute between home and the office, the one-off family trip, or the weekend social outing into the city. Going far beyond a simple mashup of raw data and a Google map, Transportle takes the end points of a user's trip and provides a variety of alternative routes using different transport modes - car, train, tram, bus, cycling, taxi and walking. It then compares these alternatives not just by time and distance, but also in terms of financial cost, carbon emissions and health benefits. A number of datasets were used to develop the application, including the Green Vehicle Guide, the Department of Infrastructure's carbon emission database, Metlink public transport data, Open Street Map data, Victorian Government Bike Share data, and the American College of Sports Medicine's energy consumption dataset.
  • This mashup was in the national competition. It allows you to report problems in your area to the appropriate local council, without actually having to know who that is. A the moment they don’t go anywhere, but you can display what other people have reported by local government area. A website called fixmystreet is up and running in the UK.
  • A more politically correct victorian version was an iphone app called Snap Send Solve I like this mashup because it is fun and irreverant, yet would be a huge timesaver in reporting things that are broken and affect you personally and getting them fixed. Getting a pothole fixed could save an elderly neighbour falling into it. I also like it because it uses another mashup – and that is the true spirit of mashups. We should be standing on each others shoulders, not reinventing the wheel. It uses the geo2gov engine
  • “ Map your address or latitude,longitude into your relationship with government”. Adam Kennedy and Jeffrey Candiloro’s spatial engine  Geo2gov  won the MashupAustralia Transformation Prize  for a mashup that solves a data problem for other hackers. Most hackers were spending an inordinate amount of their time dealing with locating, downloading, cleaning, formatting and otherwise overcoming problems getting access to the data they wanted to use in their application before they even got to start building it. Geo2gov was used by  itsbuggeredmate and anyone can use it. Over 36 hour hackfest in Canberra, most of mashups created in last 10 hours. geo2gov takes a location in a variety of different formats (address, postcode, suburb, place name, ip address, etc) and converts them to a GPS location, drills through a whole host of layers to tell you what local government area and ward you are in, who your federal and state elected representatives are so you can link through to OpenAustralia.org to find out what they are saying and doing. It does all this in around a quarter of a second. It gives you a link through to ABS statistics for the page and census information. Geo2gov lives in the cloud (it is hosted on Amazon for the cost of a weekly squash game). But how many people know about it? My son works for a web development company and his colleague was mashing up ABS data so I told him about it but its all a bit haphazard. I interviewed Adam Kennedy. http://www.communica.com.au/mashup-australia/interview-with-a-mashup-hacker-2/
  • Too many other apps to cover but look on http://www.communica.com.au/mashup-australia/favourite-mashups/ or http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/app-my-state/view-application-submissions.html?view=category&layout=category While only 2 of the entries in Mashups Australia were mobile, about half in Victoria were. The iphone developers really jumped on the bandwagon. They not only produced great apps, they had videos on youtube and slick websites to promote them. Dunny Directories uses the national public toilet dataset. The location of public toilets was one of the two most asked for government datasets in the UK Vicwaterapp A quiz on water usage Water storage levels The microphone listens out for when you turn the water on and off in the show to time it (and tell you how much water you used and how much it costs) Mymarkets Tells you where the markets are, opening times, what food is available, lets you rate markets and individual stall holders and it is a social tool so you can communicate with other market goers in real time. Uses markets in victoria data from the department of planning. Ideas sections The Victorian and NSW competitions added an ideas section for those who have a vision but don't have the time, skills or data to create an actual app.  Many of the ideas related to public transport, mobile phone apps that allow you to find out how to get from A to B. They could be hugely beneficial to irregular users of public transport or visitors. People wanted to know where things were in relation to other things – such as restaurants, BBQ areas, museums or public toilets along bicycle routes.
  • The website on which the mashup entries were posted was very user friendly. You could search by category of mashup, comment on a mashup or vote for it, report a bug, see what datasets it used, who created it. Very good feedback for the developers LobbyLens LobbyLens correlates data about Federal Government business over the last 18 months. It shows the connections between government contracts, business details, politician responsiblities, lobbyists, clients of lobbyists and the location of these entities. Very much in the spirit of Government 2.0 transparency
  • Data is categorised and documented – mostly very simple from a spatial viewpoint, may be addresses or lat,long. Metadata variable, SA frog atlas has a very good explanation in the readme sheet in the spreadsheet, then all the locations of frog sightings, whether it was seen or heard or captured in a trap. The site is run by Australian Government Information Management Office AGIMO, drawing on experience of a UK model called showusabetterway. What sorts of data? All sorts. from Sustainability Victoria Adopt a roadside . Locations where individuals, organisations, community groups and businesses help maintain sections of roadside within Victoria’s arterial road network in regional Victoria. Dataset includes hours spent in maintaining roadsides and cubic metres of litter collected. Locations for Byteback ™ – a free computer recycling service that lets Victorian residents and small businesses dispose of old, unwanted and non-functioning computers safely. This service is currently being trialled in Victoria only.   New South Wales Crimes by offence type, month and Local Government Area. Road crash statistics from SA Suburb of residence of school students in ACT and BBQ locations Rainfall, evaporation, temperature, pressure and wind data of all the capital cities plus Cairns, Broome and Alice Springs for 2008 from the BOM   A KML file of Victorian Hospital locations Locations of playgrounds, public BBQs, fire brigades, boat ramps Most visited datasets on the site were centrelink offices, and medicare offices national public toilet map, federal election boundaries, frog atlas and crime data.    One I really liked was public internet locations in Victoria – with addresses, opening times, free or fee, support for disabled access (speech synthesis, wheelchair access, vision impaired).
  • Two types of data Raw data – 92 datasets mostly csv files, some KML (the Vicmap lite files for features and railway stations). Public internet locations, arts organisations, microbreweries, Melbourne Water use by postcode , where you can dispose of unwanted chemicals or computers. A whole host of useful information. Department of health published hospitals. The website, created by the Dept of Innovation, industry and Regional development is in beta form. I am not sure where it will go from here. DSE published a KML version of its Vicmap Lite products for the competition under creative commons licenses. They were downloaded over 600 times. I am not sure how many mashups used them but Transportle did. Mostly under creative commons, Metlink data more restrictive. But all just for mashup competition. You can still download the data but no updatesDIIRD want developers to give feedback. Really not very much at all on the discussion forums. Data Tools e.g. Heritage Database. This is a fully searchable (no doubt huge) database containing information about all Victorian Heritage Places and Precincts, including statements of significance, physical descriptions, builder, architectural style, photographs and heritage overlay number. Developers can either do a full download of core data in a text file or access more detailed (and always current) information about an individual place in JSON format through a live API. It is well explained and the interface is simple. There is a blog, a developers forum a “suggest a dataset” option, which plenty of people did use.
  • National mashup comp tapped into OpenAustralia.org   and their forum. Seemed to work very well. Volunteers hugely enthusiastic about transparent government. Really picked up the ball and ran with it. The developers forum on the victorian site wasn’t very widely used but there were some good discussions and you can still participate.
  • Live train map of the London underground. This mashup was created in a few hours at a UK science hack day. It uses a London Transport live feed of the location of London’s tube and was reported in the Sunday observer. While this app only made 10 requests every 2 minutes, others must have built their own mashups resulting in the London transport feed being overwhelmed by requests for data. It ballooned from 180,000 to 10million and the feed ground to a halt. Go to mashup favourites on communica.com.au to follow the links to the video and feedback discussions
  • So in summary, mashups are very exciting and useful. You can’t talk about mashups without talking about data in the same breath. On data.gov.au there is a link to another mashup competition called libraryhack.org a competition to encourage the creative reuse of library data and digital content. Different types of data will stimulate different parts of the economy. For example, releasing  accessibility data  removes barriers to work, leisure and tourism for disabled people.  Releasing transport data, especially  live feeds , improves travel experiences and increases passenger numbers (or encourages them to adopt more sustainable travel practices). But the benefits may be even more far-reaching than the obvious.  Knowing how long till the next bus means you can pop into the shops while you wait.  Or choose to walk if it means getting to your destination quicker.  Or wait for the next, less crowded bus – particularly useful for people with reduced mobility. Closer to home Premier John Brumby announced that the 170 entries to the Victorian mashups comp had created $1 million worth of apps for Victorians for an investment of $100,000 in prize money (plus the cost of setting up the portal, running the hackfests, organising the promotion ) They have their place alongside serious GIS. Because they are familiar and non-threatening, they are embraced by managers, non specialist colleagues and the public because they help them to understand issues and better make better, quicker decisions. The lifeblood of mashups is data. You have to be able to find it and so the easier we make it for people to find our data and the more flexible formats we offer it in, the more it will be used and the more it will be of benefit and if there are errors in it, people will tell us about them so we can fix them. Join our mapping mashups linkedin group formed after the GITA mashup workshop. We will post about seminars, online training, share mashups we have done. Open Australia.org is a non-partisan website run by a group of volunteers which aims to make it easy for people to keep tabs on their representatives in Parliament. They really got behind the mashup australia competition and there was a very active discussion forum. In your own organisation: Find a bright eyed bushy tailed web developer
  • Web Mashups and ad hoc mapping

    1. 1. Mashups & Ad hoc mapping ISNSW Twilight Seminar Jose Diacono Matt Robinson Cameron Shorter 13 th April
    2. 2. Mashups & Ad Hoc Mapping <ul><li>What are mashups? </li></ul><ul><li>Why should I be creating them? </li></ul><ul><li>How do I get started? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Why do Mashups? <ul><li>“ Many serendipitous discoveries arise when a prepared mind makes a previously unnoticed connection between seemingly disparate pieces of information” </li></ul><ul><li>Government 2.0 taskforce </li></ul>
    4. 6. Bushfire Recovery
    5. 7. EnergyAustralia Mashups
    6. 9. Peoples’ Choice
    7. 22. More information <ul><li>LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Data.gov.au & Libraryhack.org </li></ul><ul><li>apps4nsw.webdirections.org </li></ul><ul><li>www.communica.com.au </li></ul>Attribution-Share Alike